‘Remarkable lives in extraordinary times – a gripping and exceptional literary journey.’ Philippe Sands
‘Alexander Wolff is keen, after a generation of silence, to follow the untold stories wherever they might lead.’ Claire Messud, Harpers Magazine
‘As riveting as the fiction the Wolffs themselves have published, and deeply affecting.’ Newsweek
In 2017, acclaimed journalist Alexander Wolff moved to Berlin to take up a long-deferred task: learning his family’s history. His grandfather Kurt Wolff set up his own publishing firm in 1910 at the age of twenty-three, publishing Franz Kafka, Émile Zola, Anton Chekhov and others whose books would be burned by the Nazis. In 1933, Kurt and his wife Helen fled to France and Italy, and later to New York, where they would bring books including Doctor Zhivago, The Leopard and The Tin Drum to English-speaking readers.
Meanwhile, Kurt’s son Niko, born from an earlier marriage, was left behind in Germany. Despite his Jewish heritage, he served in the German army and ended up in an prisoner of war camp before emigrating to the US in 1948. As Alexander gains a better understanding of his taciturn father’s life, he finds secrets that never made it to America and is forced to confront his family’s complex relationship with the Nazis.
This stunning account of a family navigating wartime and its aftershocks brilliantly evokes the perils, triumphs and secrets of history and exile.